Simply keeping up with Orlando’s theme parks nowadays requires a program as the Big Three – Disney, Universal and SeaWorld – battle to outdo each other for the hearts and minds of patrons. Every year, it seems, a major new development – from Potter to Pandora – either opens or is revealed.

 

For the parks it’s big business, but also integral to their very survival.

“We are in the middle of the greatest armaments war of attractions we’ve ever seen,” theme park expert Dennis Speigel was reported as saying in the Tampa Bay Times recently. “It’s just amazing that today it’s nothing to spend US$500 million and up on a new themed area.”

When Universal Orlando Resort opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010, attendance jumped 36 per cent, prompting the theme park to follow up with a second Potter attraction, Diagon Alley, four years later.

 

A traditional venue for announcements from the parks (and their corporate goliath owners) is the annual IPW (International PowWow) travel trade show, a mega event for U.S. tourism. But this year’s event, to be held early next month in Washington, D.C., may prove anti-climatic – at least in the sense of new news, as the event will be scooped later this month by the openings of Disney’s Pandora – The World of AVATAR, and the Volcano Bay water park at Universal Orlando Resort. Not to be left behind, SeaWorld Orlando just announced that it will debut a major new attraction, Infinity Falls, in summer, 2018. Disney, of course, has already announced its next big thing: Star Wars Land in 2019.

 

Here are some brief program notes on what’s in the pipeline for Orlando visitors and the agents who send them there:

 

Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando Resort: First off the mark on May 25, Volcano Bay is Universal Orlando’s Resorts third standalone theme park, joining Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. The three-acre South Pacific themed attraction spans 30 acres and features a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, peaceful winding river, twisting multi-rider raft rides, speeding body slides that drop from the top of the volcano into the waters below, and more. A notable tech twist will be the new TapuTapu waterproof wearable devise that allows guests to virtually wait in line for Volcano Bay’s dozens of unique attractions and discover various TapTu Play experiences throughout the park with just a simple tap. (Stay tuned, I’ll be attending the opening and, should I survive, reporting on it afterwards).

 

Pandora – The World of AVATAR, Walt Disney World: Opening May 27, the new land at Animal Kingdom promises to immerse guests in the fictional world of Pandora from the James Cameron box office smash, AVATAR. The trade got a glimpse of what is the largest addition in Animal Kingdom’s history at an event in Toronto this week, where Disney revealed it’s “mystical world of massive floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and breathtaking new experiences.” Moreover, the representation of the home of the ecologically sensitive Na’vi people will celebrate “the intrinsic value of nature, transformation through adventure and a personal call to action…” Rides will include Avatar Flight of Passage, an “exhilarating, wind-in-your-face experience on a winged mountain banshee over the awe-inspiring world of Pandora,” and the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey, where guests travel down a sacred river deep into a bioluminescent rainforest past glowing exotic plants and Pandoran creatures in eight-seat reed boats.

 

Infinity Falls, Seaworld: A boat ride through roaring rapids culminating in a plunge over the world’s tallest river drop promises to add new thrills for visitors to SeaWorld Orlando in summer 2018 with the opening of Infinity Falls.

Inspired by the waterfalls and rivers of South America, the attraction will be the centerpiece of a newly themed surrounding area that immerses guests in a rainforest canopy and native village, and offering interactive experiences that combine play with education designed to create a positive impact on freshwater ecosystems. SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassadors will also provide up-close encounters with animals native to South America.

The Infinity Falls ride will twist and turn through a lush jungle environment, negotiating Class IV rapids before a unique vertical elevator lifts each raft for a dramatic launch into the river, 40 feet below.

 

Gatorland – Dubbed the "Alligator Capital of the World," Gatorland in Kissimmee, has broken ground this month on a $2.5 million park expansion, the largest since opening in 1949.

 

Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando Resort: First off the mark on May 25, Volcano Bay is Universal Orlando’s Resorts third standalone theme park, joining Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. The three-acre South Pacific themed attraction spans 30 acres and features a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, peaceful winding river, twisting multi-rider raft rides, speeding body slides that drop from the top of the volcano into the waters below, and more. A notable tech twist will be the new TapuTapu waterproof wearable devise that allows guests to virtually wait in line for Volcano Bay’s dozens of unique attractions and discover various TapTu Play experiences throughout the park with just a simple tap. (Stay tuned, I’ll be attending the opening and, should I survive, reporting on it afterwards).

 

Pandora – The World of AVATAR, Walt Disney World: Opening May 27, the new land at Animal Kingdom promises to immerse guests in the fictional world of Pandora from the James Cameron box office smash, AVATAR. The trade got a glimpse of what is the largest addition in Animal Kingdom’s history at an event in Toronto this week, where Disney revealed it’s “mystical world of massive floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and breathtaking new experiences.” Moreover, the representation of the home of the ecologically sensitive Na’vi people will celebrate “the intrinsic value of nature, transformation through adventure and a personal call to action…” Rides will include Avatar Flight of Passage, an “exhilarating, wind-in-your-face experience on a winged mountain banshee over the awe-inspiring world of Pandora,” and the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey, where guests travel down a sacred river deep into a bioluminescent rainforest past glowing exotic plants and Pandoran creatures in eight-seat reed boats.

 

Infinity Falls, Seaworld: A boat ride through roaring rapids culminating in a plunge over the world’s tallest river drop promises to add new thrills for visitors to SeaWorld Orlando in summer 2018 with the opening of Infinity Falls.

 

Inspired by the waterfalls and rivers of South America, the attraction will be the centerpiece of a newly themed surrounding area that immerses guests in a rainforest canopy and native village, and offering interactive experiences that combine play with education designed to create a positive impact on freshwater ecosystems. SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassadors will also provide up-close encounters with animals native to South America.

 

The Infinity Falls ride will twist and turn through a lush jungle environment, negotiating Class IV rapids before a unique vertical elevator lifts each raft for a dramatic launch into the river, 40 feet below.

 

Gatorland – Dubbed the "Alligator Capital of the World," Gatorland in Kissimmee, has broken ground this month on a $2.5 million park expansion, the largest since opening in 1949.

 

 

This - That

 

  • The United Nations World Tourism Organization has set its sights on travel and ratings review sites – specifically the ethics of the myriad sites that are “now playing a major role in tourism.” Urging purveyors to ensure “accuracy, reliability and credibility of the information offered… and undertaking all reasonable measures to ensure that any review posted reflects real user opinions, findings and experiences,” the guidelines are non-binding, but reflect the influence such sites as TripAdvisor have as “an indispensable tool not only for consumers, but also for tourism service providers and operators who can align their products and services to better meet consumer expectations…”

 

  • Montreal is home to a new luxury hotel that pays homage to the city’s urban past. Le Mount Stephen mansion hotel is a repurposed version of George Stephen House, a classified historic monument that was the home of the Canadian railway pioneer in the 1880s. Located at 1440 rue Drummond in the heart of Golden Mile Square, the exclusive property has 90 units.

 

  • Governor’s Island is a “secret gem” of New York City, according to someone who should know: Chris Heywood, SVP of New York & Company. Visitors can access the tiny seasonal sanctuary by ferry, which the tourism exec calls a “little oasis” with walking and bike paths and remnants of the former military outpost that inhabited the island, including Fort Jay. And, of course, there are great views of the NYC skyline, a mere 800 m. distant.

 

 

Trade Ticker

 

  • The Dominican Republic gets easier to get to from Western Canada starting next week as Sunwing seasonal service from Vancouver kicks in. Flights to Punta Cana run May 17-Sept. 3 connecting through YYZ with hotel options including the CHIC Punta Cana in Uvero Alto.

 

  • Kids and teens stay free at Moon Palace Cancun, The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun, Beach Palace, Cozumel Palace, Playacar Palace and Moon Palace Jamaica Grande through Dec. 23, but bookings must be made by May 31.

 

  • Mark your calendar: Air Canada Vacations has announced the dates of its fall Sun product launches: Wednesday, Sept. 6 – Vancouver; Friday, Sept. 8 – Halifax; Monday, Sept. 11 – Montreal; and Wednesday, Sept. 13 – Toronto.

 

So says!

 

Brian Morrow, Vice President of Theme Park Design Experience at SeaWorld Orlando on the theme park’s new attraction, Infinity Falls, which will debut in 2018:

 

“Water makes up more than 70 per cent of our planet. We developed Infinity Falls to tell new stories that showcase the beauty and sheer power of water and the amazing wildlife that lives in it.”

 

 

Pandora

Pandora - The World of Avatar

Be on Top of your Sales Game with CT
Sales tips for products & destinations, career building advice, business development techniques & the latest industry news, all in one place.
Be on Top of your Sales Game
  • Sales tips for Products & Destinations
  • Career Building Advice
  • Business Development Techniques
  • The Latest Industry News